THE doorbell rang at our apartment this week, which is cause for celebration. To get as far as the doorbell, visitors first have to subject themselves to the kind of mental gymnastics that under any other circumstances would qualify them for membership of Mensa. Most give up and go away. They must, for starters, get through the main lobby doors by pushing a series of numbered buttons and speaking to us through a grille. Everyone has a line for the occasion, 'two happy meals and a large Coke to go' is a favourite. If we like the sound of the visitor we let them in. If we don't, we hit a red security button, the Bat-button, which sends a 3,000 volt electric charge through the door handles, turning the potential intruder into barbecue charcoal. This process means that our doorbell is almost obsolete. We are sufficiently forewarned of any arrival that we can lurk behind our door and surprise them before they have a chance to push the bell. In fact it is my idea of a good joke to look through the peephole and, at the instant the visitor is about to push the bell, pull the door open so they fall through and land on our carpet. I am always careful to relieve them of their bottle of Park'N Shop Chianti before it breaks. Anyway, if our doorbell rings, it is because it is being rung by someone from inside the building - someone who has not had to come through the main doors. When it rang this week there were two possibilities. First, it was a neighbour, though this seemed unlikely because the neighbours only go out when they have to. Daylight disagrees with them. Staying at home and shouting at each other while the television remains on full blast is their preferred leisure activity, and one they are rather good at. Second, it was our postman. But he traditionally allows me less than half a second to reach the door before he slips a card under it which says, 'there is a registered letter, which the postman has made two attempts to deliver, awaiting collection at the Post Office', and disappears. On this occasion a glance through the peephole revealed a gentleman outside with a head much bigger than his body. This was neither neighbour nor postman. The neighbours I recognise instantly because they have sharp, protruding teeth and seem edgy in the presence of mirrors. It was the security guard, which spells bad news (technically, it spells 'security guard', but you see the point. Bad news is spelt B-A-D N-E-W-S). He and I have not seen eye to eye since the unfortunate episode with the rubbish bin. The moral of that story is that if you decide to take the trash out late at night, make sure you take the door key with you. There I stood, locked out, in only my scanties, but he refused to let me use his telephone. I was forced to walk barefoot and bare-wobbly-breasted to a nearby hotel to call a locksmith. Relations between the guard and I are still, rightly so in my opinion, on rocky ground. Yesterday he asked me to move my bike, which is now parked not in the hallway, an eminently sensible place for a bike to be parked, but between two sturdy plant pots in our living room, blocking our view of the television. The guard had been sent, by the Addams family next door, to ask us to turn down our music, which was interfering with their violent quarrelling. He spoke little English, but pointed at his ears. I said: 'Sorry, I can't hear you, the music's too loud.' But he didn't laugh. Our security guard is under the impression that smiling might cause his face to crack open and his brain to fall out. This would be disastrous because it could easily be mistaken for a pea and eaten by a passing cockroach. Jimi Hendrix, it must be said, is not everybody's cup of tea. To the uninitiated his enthusiastic version of Star-Spangled Banner might, on a mediocre stereo system, sound like a large number of wildebeest being simultaneously castrated by a chorus of television weather girls singing Cantonese opera in the wrong key, if indeed Cantonese opera has a right key. It is preferable, however, to the sound of holes being drilled in floorboards. It is preferable to the sound of people screaming, to karaoke, to nails being banged into walls, to furniture being dragged across floors, to the pavement being dug up by Wharf Cable, to the pile-driver being used to build drains on the Kornhill section of the Wilson Trail and, most of all, to another stereophonic performance from across the corridor of Michael Crawford, the original castrated wildebeest, doing The Phantom Of The Opera. The trouble with neighbours is they don't appreciate culture when they hear it. But they will come around. This evening I intend to try them out with Wagner. In fact I think they are just waking up . . . I can hear the sound of coffin lids creaking.